This guest post is by Rory Brockway, a young woman on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into and will be attending Asbury University where she will be majoring in Business. Rory is applying for the Spring 2020 Making a Difference Autism Scholarship via the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference started by me, Kerry Magro. I was nonverbal till 2.5 and diagnosed with autism at 4 and you can read more about my organization and how to apply for my scholarship here. I’m trying to make this nonprofit self-sufficient so I can make this my full-time job supporting the special needs community and could use your help. Learn more on how you can help our cause here.

My name is Rory Brockway, and I am 17 years old. I live in a small town in Kentucky with my mom and stepdad, along with my 5 sisters and 2 brothers. We moved from Florida when I was 11 years old and have been here ever since. So saying that, I have had a few opportunities to start over at new schools in completely different environments.

Growing up, I had trouble being around other people. One of the times I remember having a really big problem was in the 4th grade when I decided to attend Girl Scout’s Camp. This was my first time going, and I was lucky enough to have my mother as one of the chaperones. I did not know what anxiety was at such a young age; all I knew was that with everyone around, my stomach started to hurt badly, and I could hardly function. As a result of this, I would come in to meals early, so I would not go hungry at the loss of my appetite. I was not properly diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome until I was 11 years old, and I continued to know about it for years without knowing what it really was. Then I decided to research it and figured out what it was after I started to notice these things about myself that my friends could not relate to. I, for one, would freak out whenever someone touched me. I did not care that it was my mom, sister, friend, or if it was just a hug. It got to the point that my therapist made me schedule two days out of the week where at a certain time I would go give my parents hugs. It started out on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 6:00 PM. I absolutely hated doing it, but it also helped me to get better. It had been years since I had given my mom a hug, and now I seemed to be doing it multiple times a week.

Something else I had a problem with was my trouble with understanding why people got upset after I said certain things. In my mind, I was being truthful and meant not to hurt them, but thought it was to help. Aside from those, there have been multiple encounters with different people that I would not consider, well, nice. According to many, having a disorder makes you “stupid” and “weak.” What they do not seem to consider when they are making fun of these people is how they would feel or if anyone with such is around. In my sophomore year I was in one of my classes and happened to have one of those experiences. My classmates chose to specifically make fun of Asperger Syndrome and continued to say derogatory things about it. Then later on in my junior year, a similar event happened. This guy was making fun of me for having it and used his depression as an excuse. I was lucky enough to have a lot of people behind me that supported me through it all and stood up for me.

After all this, I really just seemed to be making progress with everything. I did not despise people touching me as much, under reasonable circumstances, my anxiety does not get too terrible either. I used to keep my diagnoses with Asperger Syndrome a secret because I thought people would think of me as less of a person. Then I guess you could say I owned it, with everything that I had been through, it did not make me “weak”, it made me a stronger person and I really wanted to show people that. I’m not defined by it, but it is defined by me. Having a disorder never made anyone “stupid,” it made me the person I am today. I like to say that all the obstacles I had to go through to become me, made me that much of a better person. The experiences we collect and our outlook on them depends on our attitudes and how we deal with it. I do not want to be known for being a negative person because I was given a few hardships that others were not. We all go through difficulties, do not focus on it so much that later on you regret giving it all of your attention.

Follow Kerry’s journey on Facebook, his Facebook Fan Page, & Instagram!

Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help us continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.

Also, consider having Kerry, one of the only professionally accredited speakers on the spectrum in the country, speak at your next event by sending him an inquiry here. If you have a referral for someone who many want him to speak please reach out as well! Kerry speaks with schools, businesses, government agencies, colleges, nonprofit organizations, parent groups and other special events on topics ranging from employment, how to succeed in college with a learning disability, internal communication, living with autism, bullying prevention, social media best practices, innovation, presentation best practices and much more!